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Simon Walsh

Capacity: Personal

Area: North West

“My overwhelming memory is of a great collective and individual effort during what was for me the most challenging time of my 33 year NHS career. I could never have predicted the intensity of the challenge and the magnificent response that it engendered. I also believe that despite significant system failure in the early weeks everyone did their best Nationally;Regionally and Locally.

In many ways the front line was wide and deep and definitely included the effort ofall NHS Procurement staff. The relationships with clinicians and service user were strengthened along with the profile of the service. The ultimate test was did we ensure that goods and equipment were available to NHS staff – the answer was an overwhelming yes….though at times it was tight!

I am very proud and humbled to have been a part of it.”


Bob Waddell

Capacity: Personal

Area: North East

After 41 years working in the NHS Supplies Service and in my golden years leading to the beloved R word (Retirement) who would have thought that the current situation would happen and change the way in which we all work forever.

I think that, like many in our profession, the letters PPE will be emblazoned on our souls from this day on. Who had ever even heard of the word furloughed before all this started?

But my years in this game have taught me one thing and that is that we adapt to situations and come up with solutions and we certainly have had to do that over the last few months.

Within our own Trust we have grown exponentially as the situation progressed as it was obvious that our Hospital Store was not big enough so we took over our lovely Grade 2 Listed Jubilee Theatre to store PPE but even this quickly filled up. When we started doing PPE deliveries we had an estate car. This quickly moved up to a small van, then a bigger one and now two enormous ones which are delivering PPE from the Jubilee all over Northumberland, Tyneside and North Cumbria. Our clever IT people quickly came up with an electronic ordering system to control all of the issues which enables us to keep control of it all.

Of course it has not all gone smoothly, and I like so many Procurement Managers have had my share of being dragged in at weekends to respond to supply problems. “I’m really sorry to bother you …. but!” became a normal phone call at the weekends. Bank Holidays …… what are they?

We have also helped others in greater need too. We have a hospice next door to us and I will always remember the phone call from them early in the crisis when they did not have any facemasks and could we help? Of course we did but I shed tears during that call when I learned of their desperate situation and the money which, as a charity, they were being forced to spend to try and obtain PPE to look after people at the end of their lives.

I am blessed with a magnificent team who have demonstrated what is the best of the NHS during these troubled times. I am pleased to say that we have never been in the situation of not being able to supply PPE when it was needed – even if it was by the skin of our teeth we have always managed it and our Patients and Staff have always been kept safe.

I am proud to work in the NHS and I remain so every single day – the NHS as an old girl may be creaking at the seams a bit these days but she is still the envy of the world!